Reading for today:
Ezra 3-4 … 1 Corinthians 3
If you were to get the Bjorksnas dresser from Ikea with all of its 678 (just a guess) pieces, are you the kind of person who would meticulously follow the instructions or are you more of a ‘this looks about right’ kind of person?
Twice in today’s passage, Ezra records that the people returning from exile did things “in accordance with what is written”
“Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers began to build the altar of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God.” (Ezra 3:2)
“They celebrated the Festival of Booths as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day.” (Ezra 3:4)
What makes this even more impressive is what we find out in between these two verses:
“They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples.” (Ezra 3:3)
Even though they feared…
They did all these things, so careful to faithfully follow the specific instructions of their God, despite their fear. Impressive.
We’re doing a study in our Wednesday night class right now on a book about changing your thoughts, which leads to a changed life.
The place we’re at in our study currently is teaching us that at the root of any behavior that we might wish to change is a lie that we have (probably unknowingly) believed. We are learning how to identify those lies and create new neural pathways in our brains to (hopefully) eventually develop new behaviors. (If you’re interested, btw, the book is Winning the War in Your Mind, by Craig Groeschel .)
Typically, when we start to practice taking that new pathway, it can feel weird…it can feel uncomfortable…it can even feel scary. But it’s only in acting when we feel scared or uncomfortable that we are able to overcome the existing pathway and create a new one.
This scientific knowledge confirms what the Bible has told us for generations, which is that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The only way to overcome a falsehood is with the truth. And in order for truth to really permeate our mind it has to become personal to us.
Simply printing out a Bible verse and sticking it to your mirror isn’t going to cut it. Take that verse, pull out the truth as it applies to the lie you are believing and write a declaration.
Here’s what I mean:
- You struggle with trusting God, so you decide to hang up the verse that says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” to remind yourself of the truth that you can trust God to take care of you.
- Instead, consider taking that same verse and personalizing it by writing out a statement like this, “God loves me more than I love myself. He knows me more than I know myself. He has my best interests at heart and He can be trusted. If He didn’t spare His own Son, but gave Him for us all, I can trust that he will graciously give me all things as well.”
- And then even shorten it further, perhaps, to put to memory, “I can trust that God will graciously give me all things.”
Write it. Speak it. Think it. And as you begin to practice a new behavior, rooted in truth, it may feel scary. But press through and keep at it!
Renew your mind and overcome the lies that hold you back from living the life that God intends for you to live.